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Walker to run for governor

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  • Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker announces candidacy for governor of Wisconsin.
  • Several hundred attend kickoff rally at Wisconsin Lutheran College.
  • Walker focuses on attacking Gov. Doyle throughout his speech.

IMAGE: Walker to run for governor

On Tuesday, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker formally announced his candidacy to run for governor of Wisconsin in 2010 as a candidate for the Republican Party.

It is still to be determined whether Gov. Jim Doyle of the Democrat Party will seek a third term, according to Lee Sensenbrenner, a spokesman for the governor.

The county executive, 41, visited Green Bay, Wausau, Eau Claire and Dane Tuesday.

Walker’s last trip of the day was to Wisconsin Lutheran College in Wauwatosa, his hometown. For the most part, Walker’s speech was focused on criticizing Doyle’s policies.

“Our troubles (in Wisconsin) come largely from leaders who repeatedly put the interests of government before the interests of the people they are supposed to serve,” Walker said.

Initially low-key, Walker’s candor grew as he said Doyle was likely to increase state spending and raise taxes, which would leave more people out of work.

Walker recalled an anecdotal story of the last time he remembered the state in such a financial crisis. He said the last time so many jobs left the state, the Illinois governor put up billboards that read, “When the last business leaves Wisconsin, please turn off the lights.”

“History doesn’t have to repeat itself,” Walker said. “I know we can build a better Wisconsin. I believe in Wisconsin!”

Walker repeated the phrase three more times, rallying the hundreds of supporters attending the event. There were roughly 1,000 RSVPs to the event, said Christopher LaCasse, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences and an intern on the campaign.

One of the young faces in the crowd was Josiah Cantrall, 18, chairman of the Washington County Young Republicans. Cantrall, who was home-schooled and just graduated high school said he believed restoring the conservative message and that Walker is the man to do so.

“The majority of Americans have some conservative feelings, but our message has failed,” Cantrall said. “I think he would issue in new standards of justice and responsibility.”

Jim Geldreich, chairman of the Washington County Republican Party, said Cantrall is an excellent example of who Walker’s campaign needs to attract in the fall.

“He connects well with young people,” he said. “He’s younger than the typical candidate. I am not sure if they realize how much in taxes they will pay in full-time jobs.”

Vince Trovato, coordinator of the Young Republicans in Waukesha County and a member of the Republican Party of Waukesha County Executive Board, said Walker would bring a fresh approach to Madison.

“Fiscal discipline is his bread-and-butter issue,” Trovato said. “This governor seems hell-bent on being one of the most corrupt governors in our state’s history. With Scott, I think we can restore some leadership.”

Kathy Kiernan, a volunteer on the campaign, said, “He is truly a conservative … He’s not a cookie-cutter politician, but a straight shooter.”

Contrastingly, Jason Stephany, executive director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said Walker should clean up issues within Milwaukee County first before tackling the gubernatorial position.

“While he’s out traveling and criticizing Gov. Doyle, it’s the governor and the legislature that are cleaning up his mess,” Stephany said. “This is either seriously ironic or the height of hypocrisy.”

Stephany also said one such issue was the state taking control of the Milwaukee Public Aid Infrastructure. He said Walker’s tour has “no ideas” and is merely rhetoric that fails to offer constructive policies.

Julia Azari, an assistant professor of political science, said Walker announced now because of his name recognition if Doyle chooses not to run.

“I think that if Doyle runs against Walker, it will be a race that goes back to basic ideas in American politics about the role of government and private business,” Azari said via e-mail.

Walker also ran for governor in 2006, his campaign said. He has served as Milwaukee County Executive since 2002, when he won a special election after the former County Executive Tom Ament was recalled following his involvement in a pension scandal.

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